Monthly Archives: January 2010

Weekend recap

Survived the week, but no energy left for anything fancy for the weekend:

Friday – Tilapia with olives and peppers, over angel hair pasta

Saturday – Take out Thai


Salmon with lemon-cilantro vinaigrette

Baked fingerling potatos with garlic lemon sauce (instead of couscous featured in the salmon recipe)

Roasted asparagus

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Dinner on the run

Three nights in a row, I’ve grumbled, mumbled, bumbled my way to getting dinner on the table.  Leftovers saved me on Tuesday.  Wednesday I threw together that fried-rice dish lickety-split.

Substituted raw sliced sugar snap peas for the frozen peas.  The locally harvested shrimpmeat (tiny little things) was a nice touch. Left the dish steaming in the wok to dash out the door to book club.  Scooped out some to nibble in the car. Quite worth the effort.  Check it out:

Shrimp and Egg Fried Rice with Napa Cabbage

But tonight, not so great. Another dinner on the run: Fried chicken, potato salad and broccoli slaw from the Safeway deli.

And then we have Friday. Always a toss-up, depending on my energy level.

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Dinner plan derailed

I’m still kicking the tires on the meal planning process. Takes three weeks to turn effort into habit, I’ve heard. Must have good attitude; life happens. Take today, for instance. When events go off-schedule, the meal plan goes sideways fast. I knew the goal of shrimp fried-rice for dinner was at risk about mid-afternoon. A play-by-play of a dinner plan derailed:

3:30pm – Business meeting is delayed 30 minutes; I’m 15 minutes late leaving the meeting downtown to head home in rush hour traffic. In my haste I decide to challenge the GPS directions back to the freeway. Stupid move. I spend an extra five minutes getting back on track.

5:12pm – Stop by the supermarket for some fresh shrimp. I figure I can swing by the school and pick up son #2, feed him a Chicken Bake from Costco at home before he’s picked up for choir practice. Though I lost 15 min in traffic, I can make it up with son #1’s help in the kitchen.  I think.

5:30pm – Arrive at  school to learn that play rehearsals don’t actually end until 6 p.m. Call son #1 to nuke the chicken bake. Dash home and put the rice on to cook. I’m supposed to use cold rice, I know, for stir-fry but I figure I can fudge a bit.

6p.m. – Return to school, chicken bake and choir music in hand, prepared to transfer son #2 to another parent for a ride to choir rehearsal so I can return home to chopping for the stirfry.  A mix-up in plans.  Must take son #2 to the parent’s house to catch ride. Another 15 minutes off the clock.

6:20 p.m – Arrive home to find rice stuck to bottom of pan. Not enough time to chop the veggies anyway. I decide a glass of white wine would be very nice. Those leftovers in the fridge are looking better than ever. The pork tacos actually taste better the second time around.

6:50 p.m. Off to meeting at the Junior High. Will try again tomorrow.

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Comfort food scores on a busy Monday

Monday craziness. Sometime between the end of play rehearsal and the start of basketball practice I churned out a Shepherd’s Pie and a salad. Comfort food at its finest, inspired a few years ago by a good friend with small children. She served us Shepherd’s Pie and my sons raved so much, I had to find a recipe.

Emeril Lagasse’s version on the Food Network website earns its stars.  I used ground beef instead of lamb, but remained true to form otherwise.  It’s a big hit with the guys.  Must be that touch of Worchestershire sauce.

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Sunday with the slow cooker

Tonight’s dinner was mediocre in my book. I loved pulled pork. I’m not a big fan of slow cooker recipes but the Real Simple recipe seemed oh-so-easy.

I should have trusted my instincts: the abundance of oregano and cocoa was just weird.

I did substitute one ingredient — stewed tomatoes with extra hot sauce instead of salsa — but that shouldn’t have made such a big difference. The pulled pork just didn’t have the texture and flavor of similar recipes prepared in the oven. (In fact, we ended up slicing and chopping the pork shoulder because the fork-shredding technique just wasn’t going to work.)

Enough whining. For the tiny amount of time I spent in the kitchen, dinner was still worth eating.:

Pulled pork tacos with corn tortillas topped with avocado, sour cream and cilantro

Jicama slaw (another weird recipe from Bobby Flay at Food Network)

Might be time to try some other online recipe sources.

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Date night @ Delancey

We finally made it to Delancey on Saturday, the same day I opened my latest issue of Sunset magazine to find the restaurant noted as one of best pizza places in the West.

Booked a table for a group weeks ago to avoid the two-hour wait. Indulged in wood-fired thin-crust goodness.

To die for (IMHO):

Starter: Wood oven-roasted radicchio – preserved Meyer lemon, garlic breadcrumbs, anchovy vinaigrette.

Pizzas: the Brooklyn, the Sausage, the Crimini and even the Romana (though very spicy)

Dessert: Meyer lemon budino with candied pistachios, anise caramel and sable cookie

Value wine: Chateau Jouclary Cabardes Cuvee Tradition, France 2006

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Filed under Restaurants to try

A flexible Friday night dinner

I wasn’t planning to be in the kitchen tonight. Friday. Time to kick back and order out. (Actually, we rarely order out. I must be dreaming.) Then I remembered there’s broccoli in the fridge and my mind went immediately to the most fantastic recipe EVER:

Roasted broccoli with shrimp. Found this first mentioned on Molly Wizenberg’s blog Orangette.  I trust anything Molly has to say about food. (If you spend enough time on her blog, you’ll know why.) It’s hit or miss on whether the shrimp actually is added to the dish at our house.  We like the broccoli as is.

After streaming home in rush hour traffic from downtown Seattle, I stopped at the QFC with shrimp in mind.  Not on sale. Not in the mood to pay $15/pound for wild or farmed domestic shrimp.  Opted instead for dijon crusted fresh cod fillets. A hot sample in the store told me shrimp would not be missed tonight.

The roasted broccoli was great, as usual. With a side of sliced mango and the pan-fried cod, dinner was easy. Thumbs up all around.   Next time, we’ll hope for earth-friendly shrimp at a civil price so our meal can look like this:

Melissa Clark's roasted broccoli with shrimp


Filed under Favorites, Quick

Meal plan, in flux

This week marked the first time I’ve done a complete meal plan in a long time.  We’re nearly through the week and it has gone fairly well. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday – right on schedule and delish.  Last night I burned out. Opted for frozen pizza and was so scattered I left the cardboard on it while baking.  It was still edible.  And the caesar salad was a nice distraction.

Before I forget, the plan came through:

Tuesday: Sauteed chicken with spinach and mushrooms; polenta with goat cheese and rosemary.  (The polenta was a challenge to meet the 30-min prep test. Thankfully the M-man pitched in to chop the mushrooms and stir the polenta while I threw everything else together. Fresh spinach is wonderful but always a pain.)

Tonight (Thursday): Italian Sausage casserole with White Beans and Chard; applesauce.  Simple and tasty.

At this point I’m not sure we’ll stick to the plan.  I’m usually looking for an excuse to avoid the kitchen on Friday nights.

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The return of the meal plan

Many years ago when I was in grad school, and my husband was in grad school, and we both were working full time in big offices at opposite ends of Chicago, we realized that our interest in eating well was being compromised.  For obvious reasons.

This was BK – before kids (actually, my first son was born into this craziness four months before I graduated) but we had all the same challenges that working families face in eating well, together, on a regular basis. I remember hearing one of classmates admit that she and her husband often ate cereal for dinner. I still today hope that my face did not reflect my horror.  She was a nice woman. Fortunately, my husband and I loved food too much.  Special K would not do.

I did meal plans. Every weekend I’d sit with the grocery ads and cookbooks and our calendar. If we had evening activities, dinner would be frozen pizza or leftovers.  But for all those other evenings I planned menus. Assembled the grocery list. Planned my shopping trip based on best deals for staples and the best shops for produce and seafood or meat. In Chicago in the mid-90s that meant a trip to Cub Foods, a big box for boxed and canned goods. Then stops at Fresh Fields and Whole Foods for the fresh stuff.  Occasional side trips to the Lincoln meat market or to Joe’s sausage shop in my neighborhood (Joe was Hungarian, but every Saturday a German friend played ompah music on an accordian all afternoon).

It was a weekly adventure.  Sure, it was time-consuming but it saved headaches (and time) during the week.  No questions about “what’s for dinner.” And we ate well.  Happy people.

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Monday dinners – another quick one

Mondays are always hectic around our house. Tonight’s menu was a quickie:

  • Salmon burgers (frozen patties from Trident Seafoods work just great in a stovetop grill pan) with Orowheat whole wheat sandwich thins (“geez, these are flat” but they’re delish and only 100 cal.)
  • Salad of baby lettuces, persian cukes, red bell pepper, a few chunks of blue cheese and lemon vinaigrette
  • A few leftover brussels sprouts


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